Over the past couple of weeks I have been studying the book of Ephesians. It is an amazing book full of a richness that our human minds can’t even begin to fathom. What I find so fascinating about the book is the ebb and flow that it has caused in my own heart and mind. It seems like I’ll be studying along towards the end of chapter 1, only to come across a thought or idea and have to go back to the beginning of the chapter to dig out something that I missed the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time through the chapter. It is incredible to think that God has so much richness to reveal to us that I haven’t even proceeded beyond the 1st chapter of the book of Ephesians in 2 weeks of study. Who does that anymore? We expect our Pastor’s to dig into the Word of God and feed us, but do we take the time to dig in for ourselves? Do we have the desire to know for ourselves and not just take the word of someone else, a “professional” who is supposedly trained to teach us the Word of God? It has been my experience that very few people, and this indictment even includes many Pastors, take the time to plumb the depths of Gods Word to grow in “…the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17b-23)
Is it any wonder that the Evangelical Church (notice that I did not say the True Church as there is a difference), of today has to resort to shenanigans that 20 or 30 years ago would have been condemned as shameful, and in some cases, outright heretical? If you doubt what I am insinuating, just head on over the the Museum of Idolatry and check out a few examples of things that are going on in supposed church’s near you, or, maybe even in your own church. The way we live for Christ is determined by our understanding of who we are in Him. I contend that our understanding of God, our position that He has purchased for us, and our view of both are woefully inadequate, so I want to share with you a sermon that was preached way back in 1978, 34 years ago, that needs to be preached again, and again, and again, so that we know who we are, what we are, and how we are to live. This message was a part 1 of a 2 part series and I’ll post a link to part two below, but part one is enough to change your life. I hope you will take the time to either read what I’ve posted below, or to click this link and listen to John MacArthur speak about “Our Resources in Christ.”
Our Resources in Christ, Part 1
Let me read this passage to you while you’re preparing your thoughts for our study. Ephesians 1:15, “Wherefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies. Far above all principality, and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come; And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” Well that Scripture is so loaded with great truth that we’re not going to be able by any means to exhaust its content this time, next time or for that matter probably ever in our thinking. But it introduces to us a very important portion of the first chapter.
This is a prayer by the Apostle Paul; it is a prayer in response to the great statement of theology in verses 3 to 14. Now if you’ve been with us you know that from verse 3 through 14 is one long sentence. And it is a sentence designed to tell us what it is that God has done for us in Christ. In other words what we possess in Christ. It discusses the great concept of election, the great concept of redemption, and the great truth of inheritance. In the past God elected us, He redeems us and in the future gives us an inheritance.
Now the truths in verses 3 to 14 are really beyond the possibility of the human mind to grasp. Frankly our human mind cannot reach that deep into the truth of God. That is something we cannot do. We cannot mine that kind of truth out of our humanness. In First Corinthians there is a very important text in this regard, chapter 2 verse 10, ah, verse 9 we could start with, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” In other words empiricism or experiment can’t see it, eye or ear, and intuition and rationalism can’t see it, neither has it entered into the heart of man. It can’t be known externally, it can’t be really known internally, the things that God has prepared for them that love Him. “But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things,” watch the next line, “yes, even the deep things of God.” You see in order for us to even understand this incredible legacy that’s ours in Christ we must depend upon the Holy Spirit. “For what,” says Paul in First Corinthians 2:11, “For what knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” In other words we must depend upon the Spirit of God for an understanding of the deep things of God. And believe me Ephesians 1:3 to 14 are the deep things of God, tremendous truths, deep truths that our human mind cannot conceive.
So, having delineated something of these truths that are ours in Christ, Paul then moves to pray for us that we would understand these truths. It doesn’t do any good to know them if we don’t understand them, because if we don’t understand them we can’t live them, see. So in chapter 1 Paul begins with describing our position in Christ, then he prays that we’ll understand it. In chapter 2 Paul describes our position in Christ, then in chapter 3 again he prays that we’ll understand it, finally in chapter 4 he says now that you’ve got it and you understand it here’s how to live it. So twice he describes the believers position, chapter 1, chapter 2, twice he prays that we’ll understand it, chapter 1 and chapter 3, finally in chapter 4 he says now that you’ve got a grip on it, live it.
Now the point is this people, you cannot live what you do not, what? Understand, understand. You can’t live it. You cannot function on principles you don’t know. No Christian has ever yet lived the Christian life who didn’t know what it was. You’ve got to have it. You-Christians all over the place are frustrated no end trying to live a life that’s never been defined for them. And Paul knows as a man of God that it is not just a case of telling people, you’ve got to pray that God will energize the information. Now I believe that that’s why in Acts 6 the Bible says that the Apostles said, “We will give ourselves continually to the ministry of the word and prayer.” Why? Because the ministry of the Word must be energized by the Spirit of God and that is sought in intercessory prayer on behalf of the people. I don’t think that the man of God’s job is just to pray for the broken legs and the broken arms and the bad backs and the diseases of his people. I think he is to pray that they as it says in verse 17 would receive a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened; that they would know what is the hope of their calling.” It’s not enough just to teach, it must be taught and then prayed in as it were by the energy of the Spirit of God released as a response to intercessory prayer.
Now, what really is going on here is simply this then. Paul is describing our position and praying we’ll understand it before he tells us how to live it in chapter 4. Now knowing your position is important. You know if you take a new job – usually at some point they give you a description of what you’re supposed to do. Ah, sometimes it’s called a portfolio if you’re an executive. If you’re on an assembly line they tell you what to do, you have to know everything you just need to know what you do and you can’t start the process until you know. And sometime you have to be trained for a job; well the same thing is true in athletics. As an athlete, as an ex-athlete, better correct that, getting old, as a former athlete one of the things that I can remember, coach after coach talking to me about was, was my position, I started out in high school playing shortstop on the baseball team when I was in the 9th grade, and so the coach said, now I’ve got to explain to you how to play the position properly.
In basketball it was playing guard, in football it was a, it was a quarter back and I had to learn my position before I could play it. I remember when I was in college we had a great athlete on our football team, the guy was just physically super, quick, fast, tremendously strong, really could pump weights and very, very, very aggressive you know the kind of a guy that you could get in the locker room to go full blast and put his head into a locker, you know just that kind of a guy, just you know. Well that used to be a big thing when I was in college, see if you could find the space between the two by fours on the plaster wall and put your head through it, you know. Those were not the Phi Beta Kappa athletes incidentally. But anyway, that was part of it, see? Well so Kurt was this guy’s name and I mean he was tough as nails. And they, they decided to make him a middle linebacker, that’s what he’d been in high school and of course he was all over the place and when you get to college it gets a little more sophisticated and you can’t run amuck, and so they tried to design for Kurt some limitations to what he could do.
Now the idea was that you’ve got this much territory, this is your position now stay there, because when you leave there we’re in trouble. But invariably what would happen was that the quarterback would make a fake somewhere and Kurt would be long gone after the first fake. The counter would come back and good-bye because nobody was home where Kurt was supposed to be. Well this went on for about four games and finally this guy who was probably the best athlete we had on the team wound up on the bench because he couldn’t play his position.
Now this is just part of it in anything you do, you’re given an assignment, the parameters are defined and you’re asked to fulfill those. Number one you must hear the definition of it, number two you must understand it, then you can do it. But you can’t do it without the first two. The same thing is true with a Christian, you can’t just try to get people to behave in a certain manner unless they understand the parameters and definition of what it is that they’re asked to do. And yet you know it’s a sad thing but it’s true, church after church after church after church people will get up and they’ll tell people what to do but they never give them the parameters or an understanding of what it is that they’re really doing. You know you get up and you exhort people to live the Christian life and do what’s right and live for God and get dedicated, consecrated, irrigated, whatever it is you know, it goes on and on, and try to get them to live it up and you, you really are, you’re working on them from the standpoint of sort of a half time pep talk every Sunday, to try to jack them up again and get them rolling, see? Or else you put them under a guilt trip and they begin to feel like they’re just really-they’ve got to do this or God is going to be right on them see? And so they get to feel guilty or you intimidate them or there’s a certain – peer pressure exerted on them and if they don’t function they’re not one of the in group, see? And all of this by-passes the real motive for living the Christian life, the real guts of it, the real heart of it, the real base of it is simply understanding who you are in Christ. That’s the base, knowing your position.
I remember as a little kid that people were always reminding me who I was because my father was a preacher. And my father was one who was also always reminding me who I was, because he felt that I should live in a certain manner so that it wouldn’t reflect on his ministry, and I had some trouble with that because I was kind of a rambunctious little guy and, and I remember-well there’s a lot of things I remember, I’m not going to go into all of them but I can think of a couple things. When I was a real little kid I used to tell stories sometimes. I remember one thing my dad-I bit for a while when I was little, I bit other little kids and uhm, I don’t know what I was lashing out at but my father finally put a sign around my neck, “Do Not Play With Me, I bite,” and I had to-I wore that sign every day for a week and never bit another kid. It worked. And I remember when I was a little kid my dad also tied me to the clothesline for a week so I wouldn’t cross the street when I was told not to. But he was very concerned that I live up to the standard that he had set. You see I’m just like the rest of you, right? But I remember one time I got into a situation where I was prone to tell fibs and, and I could, I, I could make up some really good ones, and I remember in the second grade I told my teacher that my dad was chopping wood and he chopped off his legs and ah, in fact I carried it on day after day, I had the teacher really concerned and so forth and so on, I was giving him a day by day description of the hospital and how everything was going and … And we had an open house at the end of the week which I had forgotten about and my father came. The teacher looked at my father and said, oh Reverend MacArthur you’re doing so well. He said, huh? And I was taken home and ah, soundly thrashed. And I-there were several things in my life, I remember one time when I did something very bad and I wound up in deep, deep trouble and, and ah, my mother said to me, don’t you know who you are, don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know what that does to your father and his ministry, and so forth and so on.
Well you know in a sense that was okay, I mean you say, well you shouldn’t scold a kid on that basis, yeah, it’s alright to do that I think. We do have a certain responsibility to honor our parents, that’s Biblical. But you know I always think back on that and I think about the fact-by the way I don’t do those things anymore, just want you to know that, but I ah, but I just think back about the fact that you know that’s a great basis for a Christian life, you know I am who I am in Christ therefore, I behave the way I behave, see. This is basic to Christianity, you must understand who you are in Christ that and that alone is the foundation upon which you operate. And if all you do is just get in the pulpit or all you do is just try to challenge yourself to live the Christian life whimsically beating yourself sort of into it emotionally you’re going to miss it. You’ve got to understand the foundation principles, this is who I am, this is my position, this is my understanding of it, and Paul is praying, oh God may they deeply understand who they are, may they get a grip on this incredible reality that they are one with the eternal God through Christ, that all of the blessings of the heavenlies are theirs, that this is the standard of their existence forever and may they live like it, see? That’s what he’s after.
And so I tell pastors all the time, man when you get into the pulpit teach positional truth, teach people what their position in Christ is, then tell them how to act. If they don’t know who they are they don’t know why they ought to act that way, so important. Position and practice, now you have to make a distinction in all of your study of the Bible between those two things. People who don’t distinguish between those two things really get confused. If you don’t understand what statements in the Bible are positional and what are practical or what deal with your standing before God and what deal with your experience you’ll never interpret the Bible right. For example, in one passage in the Bible it simply says this, “Now you are holy.” You say, me? That’s right, you’re holy. In another verse it says to the very same people, “Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness.” Now wait a minute, you just said we’re holy and now you say cleanse yourselves from filthiness, but you see if you don’t know the difference you’re going to go like this and think at one minute you’re holy and one minute you’re filthy. The fact of the matter is you’re holy in your position before God in Christ and you’re not in your practice. So that this is the way the Christian life goes, here is your position in Christ perfect holiness, perfect righteousness, one with Christ an eternal unchanging invariable reality, but your practice is down here and the Christian life is making your practice equal your what? Your position, that’s it, that’s it. It’s making your practice’ equal your position.
Now the Apostle Paul wants us to understand our position because he knows that unless we do we’re not going to have the right motive to live the life. I’m a child of the King, I am one with Jesus Christ, He lives in me and through me, now that demands out of me a certain kind of behavior, right? That’s the essence of his thought. So he has shared in the first 14 verses the great, deep, rich truths of what is ours in Christ now he prays that we would understand it, he prays that we would get a grip on it. And people I want you to understand this, Christian growth has nothing, I’ll say it again, Christian growth has nothing to do with your position in Christ, nothing. When you were saved you were in Christ, how much of your sin was forgiven? All, you received eternal life, you’re made perfect, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to you, God sees you as absolutely perfect and righteous, that’s your position Christian growth has nothing to do with it. But your practice is where the growth comes. I’ve often said that the Christian life is the process; watch this, of becoming what you are, okay? Becoming what you are.
Now let me illustrate for a minute, there are a lot of people who think that Christian growth, like when you grow and mature as a Christian and you develop, makes God like you better. Now we’re kind of like this, we’re this way humanly, you know we say uhm, to our kids now and then; well mommy won’t love you if you if you do that, or I’ll like you a lot better if you do this. God is not like mommy. What you do or don’t do has absolutely no effect on your position before God, you can’t do anything to make Him like you better, you can’t do anything to make Him like you less because He loves you totally and perfectly in Christ, right? You can’t do anything to make Him forgive you more or less He forgave you already everything. You can’t do anything to earn more salvation or to give up some of it, you can’t do that because you already have it total and complete there’s no more or no less. You see positionally it’s all yours, you are already accepted in the beloved one, verse 6 says of chapter 1, already, we’re already in God’s favor, we’re already in God’s grace for Christ’s sake everything is settled, we are one with Christ, He sees us just as He sees Jesus Christ. Nothing you do can increase you in God’s favor, nothing you do can decrease you in God’s favor positionally, your standing is perfect.
Colossians 2:10 says, “And you are complete in him.” Hebrews 10 says, and He has perfected you forever by the one offering of Jesus Christ. Positionally perfect, positionally complete. Second Peter 1 he says, that you have been made a partaker of the divine nature. Perfection again, positionally you’re in Christ He doesn’t see you anymore as an individual in that sense, He sees you in Christ with His righteousness, you are a partaker of the divine nature, Peter says, you have all things that pertain to life and godliness, you have received great and precious promises. But then Peter goes on in Second Peter 1 verse 4 to say verse 5, now that you have that position here’s how to match up your practice, “add to your faith virtue; to your virtue, knowledge; to knowledge, patience; to patience (so forth) goodness; to goodness, brotherly love; to brotherly love, kindness.” Etc. In other words he’s saying now get your practice moving toward your position, this is who you are, this is how you act like it. You know it’s kind of like the difference between a baby and a polliwog.
You know when I was a little kid and you were too we used to collect polliwogs. And a polliwog was a little blob with a tail. And you’d get a little polliwog in a coffee can or something or a jar and you’d watch that little polliwog and you’d drop in some grass or something and pretty soon that little polliwog would spoung and a couple of legs would come out in the back, right? And a little while later you didn’t have a polliwog something else would pop out of the front, pretty soon you had a frog. But babies aren’t like that. When a baby is born into the world it’s not a blob with a tail, and you don’t wait three months and boung-boung two legs pop out, a little later buump-little arms. Oh Ethel, he’s growing an ear, finally, no. It doesn’t happen. Now the difference is this, when a baby comes into the world it has all the parts, it’s perfect it just needs to grow, right? The same thing is true of a Christian, when you were born into the family of God you were not a spiritual polliwog, you weren’t incomplete, you were complete, you were all there, all the parts, totally, completely there. It was simply a matter of maturing. And that’s the way it is spiritually.
What the preacher says in Ecclesiastes 3:14 is dead right, he was right on center when he said it, he said, “I know this, that whatsoever God does, it shall be forever; nothing can be added to it, nor any thing taken from it.” He was dead right. When God does a work of salvation it’s a total thing, it’s complete, and you’re perfect before God, and it’s just a matter of growing to match your practice to your position. Just like that little baby learns to use all of those facilities and resources that are that babies at birth. So instead of seeking more favor with God, instead of trying to make God like us better, instead of trying to be more fit for heaven we should just thank God who has already made us, Colossians 1:12 listen to this, “He has already made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” You are already fit for it, nothing you do will make Him like you better, He loves you so much already it’s impossible to love you more. So Christian growth has nothing to do with your position, it has only to do with your practice, and you need to understand that.
And you don’t want to run around trying to make God like you better. If you’re a Christian He loves you totally, you couldn’t be any better positionally. But oh man when you understand positionally what you have in Christ, when you understand all these resources, that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you were redeemed and your sins were forgiven and He has granted to you to be a part of His eternal plan and to call you into that great unity with which the whole universe ultimately ends up, when you realize that this inheritance is planned for you incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, when you realize that all these things are yours in Christ, that you are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, when you of realize that all/that is yours and that’s who you are that ought to do something about how you live, it really should. And that’s the bottom line. You cannot exhort people to a certain behavior unless they understand who they are.
And so Paul here is praying that we and the Ephesians will understand. Constant exhortation without theology just brings people under guilt, it doesn’t motive them. So the mature Christian understands his privileges, his possessions, checks out his resources, lives consistent with who he is. In fact over in chapter 4 verse 1 Paul says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you,” now watch, “that you walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.” He has spent three chapters, now watch me, three chapters describing the calling and now he says, therefore here is how you live.
Now if you’ve been at Grace Church any time you know that that’s a principle all through the New Testament, all through the New Testament. You go into the book of Romans you’ve got eleven chapters of theology and then in chapter 12 therefore here is how you live. In Galatians you’ve got four chapters of theology, finally chapter 5 therefore here is how you live. Colossians, the first section theology, therefore here is how you live. That’s the way it always is in the New Testament, because position is the predicate, the basis on which practice is built.
Now let’s look at his prayer then, we’ll look at the first part of it verses 15 to 17 this morning. “Wherefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” Stop there. Now in this he just introduces to us the idea that he is praying, wherefore takes us back, on the basis of this tremendous inheritance that we have in Christ I pray for you. And he says I pray for you because “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all saints.” If you say, well what, what does that have to do with his prayer? Just this, those two things are the indicators that their salvation was genuine. He says I hear you have the two things that prove true salvation, faith in the Lord Jesus and love to all the saints.
Now how did Paul hear this? Well it had been 4 years about, since he had ministered in Ephesus but sea travel was relatively easy in those days because of the ships and so forth and so ah, there was great accessibly to that little small part of the world around the north and west part of the Mediterranean and additionally ah, there was ah, liberty that Paul enjoyed even while he was a prisoner and that was that they allowed people to come and visit him, so there was a constant flow of Christians, no doubt coming in and out of Paul’s life. And they would be bringing him reports, and as I had told you when we first studied the beginning of Ephesians this letter was not only written to Ephesians but no doubt all the churches of Asia Minor and so it’s probably that that he has in his mind. He says of all of you churches in Asia Minor I have been hearing about you. People visiting, coming by ship, perhaps walking on some of the great Roman highways that would give them access to Paul’s location.
And so Paul says I’ve been hearing good things, in fact I hear two things, I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints. And those beloved are the cardinal things, those are the basic aspects of a true Christian, a true Christian is marked by faith in the Lord Jesus which gives evidence of itself in love toward all saints. In fact in First John chapter 2 and verses 9 to 11 (if it says) it says there, if you claim to have saving faith and hate your brother you’re a liar. Those two go together. “By this will all men know you’re my disciples,” John 13 says, “if you have love one for another.” And love as we’ve defined it so many times is sacrificial, selflessness, serving others sacrificially, unselfishly. True faith always springs into love. And so he says I’ve, heard about it, it’s genuine, I see it.
Now I want you to see these two things because they’re very important. First of all your faith in the Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus. You see salvation begins with believing Jesus is Lord, do you see that?
I was speaking in Miami this week and a pastor came up to me afterwards and he says, well, he said … he was kind of I don’t know what, kind of on edge I think, he said, well, he said, I suppose you’re one of those Lordship Salvationists. I said, what is that? He says, you don’t know about Lordship Salvationism? I said, no I don’t. He says, well, you probably believe that in order to be saved you have to receive Jesus as Lord. I said, as a matter of fact I don’t know any other way. He said, yeah, I thought so. I said, you don’t-you’re not a Lordship Salvationist? Sounds like-I-he said, no, no. I said ah; let me ask you a question, I said, is Jesus Lord? Well he didn’t really want to answer I guess because he said, well, well there is a sense in which He is. I said well, is Jesus Lord, yes or no? Yes. Well yes it’s right He’s Lord. So if you receive Him does He come as who He is? Yes, He, He’d have to. Right. Let me ask you this I said, does Philippians 2 say that “Every knee should bow and confess Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God.” And I said does Romans 10 say, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, thou shalt be saved.” Well, he says, but it doesn’t appear in the Gospel of John. I said, what doesn’t appear in the Gospel of John? Jesus is Lord? No, he says, the idea of Lordship Salvationism. I said, I don’t know what you’re saying, I said, I don’t know-you just tell me what you’re going to do with Romans 10:9. “That if thou shalt confess Jesus as Lord, thou shalt be saved.” And then he just said, yes, well you’re a Lordship Salvationist and he walked off. I, I still don’t know where he was. How you get salvation minus the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a problem. I think what he was trying to say was that you can receive Him as just-as Jesus, just as the Savior without acknowledging Him as Lord. But he’d have a tough time handling a couple of passages in the New Testament.
The point here is Paul says, I know you’re genuine, because your faith is in the what? The Lord, Jesus. You don’t receive Him as Savior and then later as Lord, you get Him who He is. Now whether you respond to His Lordship or not is another issue, but He’s Lord.
Now the second thing he says, not only is your salvation evident by the faith in the Lord Jesus but your love unto all the saints. Do you notice that this love is indiscriminate; you notice that a true Christian doesn’t pick and choose, he loves and by virtue of that whoever gets in front gets loved. We used to say this little phrase, well; I love him in the Lord. Which means personally you can’t stand him. Remember that one? Well, I love him in the Lord. As if you had a little pipe coming out of you, you could squirt him with God’s love, you know? You can’t un-you can’t unscramble the egg folks, if you love him you love him and the Lord loves him and if you don’t love him then the Lord doesn’t love him through your not loving him. You love them, all the saints you can’t be discriminate. The world picks and chooses, Paul says in Philippians 2, “I pray that you would have the same love.” What that means is to love everybody what? The same. And in First John 3 he says, love in word, not in word and tongue but in deed and in truth anybody who has a need and don’t shut up your heart of mercy, when you see them with a need. You can learn all the theology you want and spin off all of the dogma you want but if you don’t love then you are nothing but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. And true salvation goes from the head to the heart and reaches right out to touch other people. And he says, I’m so thankful to God that I’ve heard about you, that you have faith in the Lord Jesus and that you love the saints.
Now you know something is kind of sad, that Ephesian Church man they started out right, but when you get to chapter 2 of Revelation and verse 4 the Lord Jesus writes them a letter. And the Lord Jesus says to the Church at Ephesus, I have something against you because you have left your what? First love. It’s sad to think about it, but the history of the Ephesian Church is they left their first love and they went out of existence as a church, they went out of existence. There’s got to be faith and love in balance. You know the monks and the hermits had a loyalty to Christ which separated them from men to live alone in a desert place contemplating faith, it was loveless faith, it never touched anybody. The heresy hunters of the Spanish Inquisition and other ages had a loyalty to their faith which caused them to literally persecute anybody with a difference, loveless faith. When Jesus came the Pharisees had a loyalty to God, which made them hateful of others, a loveless faith. And I’m afraid there are some Christians in the churches today who are hateful and bitter and resentful of other Christians and its loveless faith and I question in-as I would the cases I just illustrated whether it’s even genuine, saving faith. The genuine is marked by love. In fact I’ll tell you something folks, you can’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, put you faith in Him without loving the people that He loves, did you get that? You can’t love the Lord Jesus without loving the people He loves.
I’ll never forget my son one time, we was driving in a car, and he leaned over to me and it was about a certain person, he said to me, I love so and so. And I did a double take I didn’t even know he knew him. I said to him, what do you mean you love so and so? He says, I love so and so. I said, why do you love so and so? He said, because I always hear you say you love him, and I love him too then. Well that’s right. If I love the Lord Jesus Christ, First John 5:1 and 2 says, if I love the Lord Jesus Christ I will love those begotten by the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s part of it. So he says, I commend you. And I pray for you, verse 16, “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” And then his prayer of thanks turns to a petition, and I pray he says, verse 17, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, The eyes of your understanding being enlightened;”
Now stop right there, he says, man I’m praying for you that you’ll understand your riches in Christ. Warren Weresbees, the pastor of Moody Church has written a little book called, Be Rich, and in there he gives an interesting illustration about William Randolph Hearst, who was the late newspaper publisher. Hearst at one point in his life decided to invest a, a veritable fortune in the collecting of great pieces of art. And he was collecting them all over the world and storing them in warehouses in different places. And one day he read a description in one of his art books or magazines or whatever, a, a description of an incredibly valuable piece of art, and he determined that he had to have that piece of art. So he got his agent and he sent him all over the world to find it, no one knew where it was. That guy went all over the world to find that art treasure for William Randolph Hearst. Months and months went by and finally the man came back and reported, Mr. Hearst I found it. And with great joy he said, where, where was it? He said, it was in your warehouse you bought it years ago. Hump, frantically searching for what he already possessed. Paul is praying here Lord, deliver those Christians from frantically searching for what they already possess, give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him so that they will know what is theirs, and that they’ll be able to use it in the living of life, see? Let’s face it people we do spend a lot of time messing around, chasing stuff we’ve got. Typical Christian, Lord guide me, and the Bible already says He’s trying awful hard to do that, trying to plead us to follow. We say, Lord I need strength and the Bible says you can do all things through Christ who already strengthens you. Lord, I need love; the love of Christ is shed abroad in your heart. Lord, I need grace, My grace is sufficient for you. Lord, I need peace in this situation; I already left you all My peace that passes understanding, what else is there? You see Christians scrambling around begging for what they’ve got, what a waste. And the Bible says you should just ask for wisdom, if you lack wisdom ask it, and wisdom is the sense not to keep asking for what you’ve got.
You see the point is this, Paul says God, the human mind cannot conceive of the riches of our position in Christ so to please God grant them this understanding. Only the Spirit can search the deep things and reveal them to us. Such understanding is beyond the human mind and God must enable us to understand. So he says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,” I love those titles, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that identifies it with Him, after all we’re in Christ, right? And if we’re in Christ then He’s our God too, and He’s the Father of glory that means the one who possesses all things, all glory is His. And so he prays to that God that He may give us the spirit of wisdom in revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Now notice the word spirit, God grants us a spirit it is an anarthrous construction in the Greek no article, a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Now people have discussed what spirit is this. Some people say it’s the Holy Spirit that God would grant us the Holy Spirit, and He is called the Spirit of wisdom in Isaiah. But I don’t think that’s Paul’s prayer because every Christian already has the Holy Spirit, right? I don’t think that’s it and besides that it’s not the Holy Spirit it’s a spirit. So I don’t think it’s the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to ask for the Holy Spirit we already have the Holy Spirit, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit First Corinthians 6 says and Romans 8:9 says that all Christians have the Holy Spirit so that wouldn’t be it. And others have said, no it’s the human spirit that He would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation and he’s talking about the human spirit. I don’t think that’s right either because we already have a human spirit. The word pneuma, from which we get breath and air and pneumatic, pneumonia, it’s the Greek word can be translated a lot of ways. And I think the way it should be translated here is as a disposition, an influence or an attitude which governs the soul of some one.
Let me illustrate this, it doesn’t have to be the Holy Spirit or the human spirit it can just be an attitude, for example Jesus, in the Sermon on The Mount said, “Blessed are the poor in (what?) spirit.” He wasn’t talking about the Holy Spirit or the human spirit He was talking about an attitude. Those were humble people. Now when we see somebody who’s sad we say, oh their spirit’s sad or we see somebody really playing hard at some game, we say, that is spirited play. Or we see somebody really happy and we say, boy he’s in high spirits. And all we mean is an attitude, an attitude, a disposition, an influence in thinking. And I believe that what Paul is saying is this, give them the fullness of an attitude of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Oh God, he says, let them know in their mind how much they possess in Christ. Give them a deep, rich, keen, strong, full understanding.
Now I would add to that that I think the Holy Spirit and the human spirit are also both implied. And what Paul is praying is this watch, God, send the Holy Spirit to work on the human spirit to create the right spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, because it’s the work of the Spirit. First Corinthians 2 1 read you earlier, only the Spirit can search the deep things of God. And by the way the word revelation deals with the imparting of knowledge and the word wisdom deals with the use of it. So he’s saying, God I’m just praying that the Holy Spirit will work on the human spirit to produce the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that is that they will know their position and their resource and that they will use it, see? Step out and use it. So he wants the believer to have a full deep knowledge of God, not intellectual but something deeper than that, something far deeper. And I’m telling you people, I’ve said this for years and years and I’ll say it till I drop over, the Christian life is predicated on what you know, it’s got to be here before you can live it, it’s got to be revelation before it can be wisdom, you’ve got to receive it before you can use it. And that’s why we spend our time teaching the Word of God.
Pat O’Brian that CBS reporter said to me, I think I’ve seen the difference between the true Christians and the false Christians, he said, the true Christians are those who are really heavy into studying the Bible. Well what he was really seeing was that when somebody is heavy into studying the Bible he gains the revelation of God that is applied in wisdom and his life is what it ought to be, see? That’s what he sees. So he prays that we would have the divine mind that we would be able to do what he said to the Colossians, to set our affections on things above and not on things of the earth, to get our mind out of the gutter and on to the great, grandiose, marvelous, magnificences of God. And so Paul prays, God it’s not enough, it’s not enough that I just tell them the facts, I pray for them that they would understand the imparting of truth and the use of it in the knowledge of Him.
Do you know you have Christ? Do you know Christ? If you know Christ do you really have this, this attitude of wisdom and revelation, this deep sense of knowing God’s heart and God’s mind? Now Paul goes on to bring three specific things that he wants us to grasp, and we’ll study those next time. Let’s pray.
It’s so great Father to know that all the resources that are in Christ are granted to us by faith. Thank You Father for every person here, everyone a special life, every one especially beloved of You, every one uniquely designed and made. And Father for those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, for those who know and love Him every one apart of your eternal plan. And some Father who haven’t yet said yes, but You’re calling them by Your Spirit, they’re part of the plan too, they’re some of Your people yet unborn, bring them to Yourself today. For those who are in the family Father help us to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, a spirit produced as the Holy Spirit works on our human spirit to give us comprehension beyond what is possible in the normal human mind, to know the deep things of God and knowing them to be able to use them, that our position may be known, understood, and lived out. And we’ll thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Here is the link to Part 2 of this series.
My prayer is that you be blessed by a fresh understanding of who God is, what He has done for you, how he has done it, and that this will cause you to walk in the way that the Apostle Paul lays out in Ephesians 4-6.